We have just come to the end (hopefully) of a dreadful few days of wind, rain and cold. As a result I have learnt some new French: “Les saints de glace sont passés”.
First on Monday my lovely cleaning lady, Edith, explained the awful weather was due to these saints, though then I thought she was pronouncing just one new noun that I did not know, something like singdeglas. Then this afternoon, when walking Poppy, I met a woman who repeated the phrase and I asked her to explain.
Apparently there are a bunch of saints days just about now and this can often mark the last patch of cold weather before the summer – though she added there is another saint’s day near the end of May which can also give a brief cold spell.
Anyhow, now that the saints de glace period is over, one can apparently start planting. What’s more, the woman added, today is the last day of la lune rousse – the lunar month after Easter. Tonight we have the new moon, and that is important for growing also. She also said something about the importance of it being a year with thirteen lunar months, but by then I was beginning to lose the astrological plot.
I ventured to suggest that climatic change meant the old sayings about what weather to expect on certain dates were less reliable. For example, when we first came to France we were told that the 15th August invariably brought a weather change with thunderstorms.
Ah yes, she agreed, we no longer have thunderstorms as violent as those of her youth. But for her the importance of the saints de glace seemed unaffected by climate change.
I know she is not the only person to adhere to a strict May growing timetable. I expect to see the tomato plants being staked up everywhere over the coming weeks.